Garden guru

To coincide with the launch of the third edition of his indispensible guide, Gardening with Keith Kirsten, SA’s garden guru gives HL his top ten tips for bringing out your green thumb. Gardening with Keith Kirsten has become a South African classic since it was first published, in a slightly different form, in the late 1970s. It has been completely revised and updated for its third and latest edition. As gardening guides go, this one falls into the category of indispensable for South African gardeners. It’s comprehensive and easy to use, covering everything from landscaping, maintenance, pests and disease, to a wonderful directory of over 2 000 plants that you’ll find yourself returning to again and again. And it has been created precisely for local gardeners, so everything seems relevant and to the point. The book has been usefully divided up into categories – trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, creepers, roses and bulbs – so it’s user-friendly and logically structured. It also helps that is has been written in Keith Kirsten’s accessible and enthusiastic style. It ends off with a section on kitchen gardens, a major trend for the year ahead. Simply put, Gardening with Keith Kirsten is a must-have – you’ll keep it forever… or at least until the next edition’s out! Also available in Afrikaans from all good bookstores, R250. Keith's Top Ten Tips: 1. Have the right tools to garden with. Essentials are: spade, fork, hand trowel, fork, secateurs, loppers, rake, hosepipe and watering  can. 2. Preparation is key: Dig decent sized holes for plants and dig over garden beds thoroughly before planting. 3. Compost, manure and bone meal are essential when planting and should be worked into the soil before planting. 4. Only plant and grow plants which are climatically suited to your area and plant what grows well for you. Avoid any alien invasive plants. 5. Purchase plants from a reliable source, where you have some sort of guarantee and information. 6. Don’t overplant: Space plants according to the size they will grow to. 7. Water plants deeply and according to the weather. 8. If you can afford it seek professional advice in your garden and if possible have someone give you a design or if you have the flair, do it yourself, with the assistance of some good books on the subject. 9. Maintain your garden according to the climate and seasons, with regard to mulching, feeding, watering, pruning and cultivation etc. 10. Irrigation systems save water but must be monitored at all times and switched off when it’s raining. Text: Graham Wood Images: Supplied